PwC SEPA Readiness Thermometer

Witnessing a silent revolution

As of 1 February 2014, national clearing of credit transfers and direct debits in eurozone countries will migrate into a common, pan-European infrastructure. As of that deadline,

the monopolistic competition between national clearing houses will cease to exist. Regular domestic payment transactions will migrate to SEPA transactions. In two years’ time, all other SEPA countries will follow suit, and other domestic payment methods in eurozone countries will be brought within a standard SEPA scheme.

This report presents the key findings of our second SEPA readiness Thermometer with questions zooming in on project planning, project delays and expectations regarding the deadline.

Understanding of scope and impact is still far from complete…

With seven months until the deadline, including summer holidays and year-end IT freezes, it is surprising that still 26% of respondents claim they have no readiness activities planned.

… but respondents are ambitious

The good news is that it seems that more companies are actively working on SEPA readiness, that the effort and resources have increased since January and that the understanding of the task at hand has improved significantly.

Those that have planned their readiness project seem realistic in their planning...

Respondents clearly have an immediate focus on minimum compliance, as the scope to be completed by 1 February 2014 is tangible and typically relates to business continuity.

… those that have not are less realistic

Half of all respondents (52%) indicate that they will complete the first phase of their project in Q4 of 2013; 17% planned their completion in January 2014 or have not provided this information. Respondents without a planned SEPA readiness project tend to be planning to complete closer to the deadline.

The results do not look good for the economy at large: if one in three companies has difficulties meeting the requirements, plan A’ is no longer good enough. A surprising 46% of the respondents admit to not considering a back-up plan. Those companies that are thinking about an alternative are typically relying on their bank or a third-party cloud solution to come to their rescue.

But a back-up plan cannot be implemented overnight. It needs preparation and does not typically provide a shortcut for all aspects of plan A. In the second section of this report, we included the outline of a possible plan B. We recommend that non-SEPA ready companies consider this guidance.